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a little short of breath and time

The place – Whangarei (fang-ah-ray).
The time – 14.09 mintues to update.
The situation – alone again!

FANTASTIC day yesterday with Germans – scenery: amazing, driving: hair-raising, adventure: very yes.

Between the five of us (+ 5 rucksacks and 5 smaller bags = VERY cramped), we managed to keep our fearless driver, Kathrin, on left side of the road, despite a few moments of sheer panic when she went TOO far left and nearly took out a couple of bridge railings. These Germans – they know how to drive on the autobahn, which means they drive fast and straight. Steep, unpaved, windy, narrow NZ mountain roads are not the place to drive fast or straight. I was riding in the front passenger seat. They appointed me navigator because I could read the English map better than they could. Eventually, though I had to just stop looking to my left. The sight of the greenery and road signs passing (at 100kph) mere centimeters from my face was just too much. Most exciting driving moment – having to come to a dead stop to allow a herd of about 100 cows overtake us and be herded up the road. Ha!

Somehow we survived long enough to stop at three different beaches, each one more divine and windswept than the next. We were alone on all three, and could wander and photograph and picnic and feel completely insignificant in face of the long, empty stretches of sand and waves and rocky, ruggedly impressive hills. No other tourists to mess up the views.

We ended in Whangarei, on the east coast of the North Island, at a backpacker's hostel, and made dinner. Katharin, Anne and Maria called around about farm work, and Andreas called around about car-buying. It turned out that K and Anne could get work – but only for the two of them…so today we have been rushing around making plans for the rest of us, since we will no longer be able to use their car. A little stressful, but finally Andreas and I have been dropped at the public library, and I think that tonight I will catch a bus further north to look for work picking zucchinis, which are supposedly in season now. My time is almost up, so I will end. More details to come later. Next stop: Keri Keri???

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